Empowering women through Saubhagya
Unilever Sri Lanka marks Poverty Eradication Day with an event in Pittabaddara that honors women in their Saubhagya programme who have taken on the challenge of entrepreneurship to uplift their living standards
Unilever Sri Lanka marks Poverty Eradication Day with an event in Pittabaddara that honors women in their Saubhagya programme who have taken on the challenge of entrepreneurship to uplift their living standards.
Saubhagya is a benchmark project in poverty alleviation and women empowerment in Sri Lanka – launched in 2003 with just 5 women entrepreneurs, the project today encompasses 3500 women who have seen palpable transformations in their economic well being as well as their status within the household.
Under the project, Unilever Sri Lanka offers a range of mass-market products to the Saubhagya women which are relevant to rural customers and necessary training is provided to these groups on the basics of enterprise management, which the women need to manage their enterprises. For the Saubhagya women, this translates into a much-needed, sustainable income contributing towards better living and prosperity.
Overall, in addition to money, there is a marked change in the woman's status within the household, with a much greater say in decision-making which results in better health and hygiene, education of the children, and an overall betterment in living standards. For most of these families, Project Saubhagya is enabling them to live with dignity and with real freedom from want.
Asanga Ranasinghe, Customer Development Director of Unilever Sri Lanka said,
“From the time Unilever launched this new model Saubhgaya, to touch the lives of our remote consumers, it has been successful beyond our expectations. Our contribution through Saubhagya is the successful transformation of the lives of underprivileged rural women into confident, business-savvy professionals capable of running their own enterprise. It has also enabled Unilever to access into unexplored rural hinterlands, and thereby let rural communities inculcate good health and hygiene habits and add vitality to their lives."
"This programme has given us confidence. Our vision for Saubhagya in 2010 is to have at least one entrepreneur per village which amounts to 14,000 entrepreneurs reaching 1 million households across the country. We are indeed proud of the achievements of our Saubhagya entrepreneurs and therefore we are honoured to felicitate them today.”
Following this ceremony, Unilever plans to expand the scope of the Saubhagya woman in the respected area by making her an agent of change in the community – the women will be co-ordinating programmes to increase awareness on health and hygiene, as well as programmes to teach English and skill development. Broader community development investments involving other Unilever brands such as Sunlight, Lifebuouy and Pears will be undertaken.
This latest initiative by Unilever Sri Lanka (USL) has changed these women’s lives in ways that are much more profound than the income they earn from selling products. As a result Unilever in South Asia has been recognizedfor making a difference to the communities in which they serve by winning the Excellence award in the Poverty Alleviation category for the Women’s Empowerment Project which includes the Saubhagya programme at the Asian Corporate Social Responsibility Awards in Vietnam last month.
258 M. Vincent Perera Mw
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